[ {"id":"6f902e2b-2da2-5aa1-a297-b77ed5a9add2","type":"article","starttime":"1481097600","starttime_iso8601":"2016-12-07T02:00:00-06:00","sections":[{"editorial":"news/opinion/editorial"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Editorial: Pensions are out of date","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/article_6f902e2b-2da2-5aa1-a297-b77ed5a9add2.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/editorial-pensions-are-out-of-date/article_6f902e2b-2da2-5aa1-a297-b77ed5a9add2.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/editorial-pensions-are-out-of-date/article_6f902e2b-2da2-5aa1-a297-b77ed5a9add2.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Quad-City Times editorial board","prologue":"Gov. Terry Branstad said last week he's open to transitioning state employees away from the pricey Iowa Public Employees' Retirement System (IPERS), the state's largest retirement program. And one only must gaze east across the Mississippi River to see why it just might be time for state employees to assume the same risk as everyone else.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["pension plan","politics","economics","work","institutes","terry branstad","parliament","ministries","welfare","private sector","employee","state","pension","benefit"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"7ee36e3a-25e7-57e5-97b5-0a95ee677fbb","description":"Source: IPERS","byline":"CONTRIBUTED","hireswidth":3000,"hiresheight":2250,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/ee/7ee36e3a-25e7-57e5-97b5-0a95ee677fbb/58406b4450fc1.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1662","height":"1246","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/ee/7ee36e3a-25e7-57e5-97b5-0a95ee677fbb/58406b441ceaa.image.jpg?resize=1662%2C1246"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"75","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/ee/7ee36e3a-25e7-57e5-97b5-0a95ee677fbb/58406b441ceaa.image.jpg?resize=100%2C75"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"225","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/ee/7ee36e3a-25e7-57e5-97b5-0a95ee677fbb/58406b441ceaa.image.jpg?resize=300%2C225"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"768","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/ee/7ee36e3a-25e7-57e5-97b5-0a95ee677fbb/58406b441ceaa.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C768"}}}],"revision":3,"commentID":"6f902e2b-2da2-5aa1-a297-b77ed5a9add2","body":"

Gov. Terry Branstad said last week he's open to transitioning state employees away from the pricey Iowa Public Employees' Retirement System (IPERS), the state's largest retirement program. And one only must gaze east across the Mississippi River to see why it just might be time for state employees to assume the same risk as everyone else.

Conservative organizations are licking their collective chops now that Republicans own Iowa's House, Senate and executive mansion. Public employees are, unsurprisingly, among the targets of the GOP's new dominant trifecta. Health care, retirement and other benefits continue to sap cash from other much-needed programs.

And it's the 90 percent of Iowans, not working in government, who foot the bill and suffer the under-funded schools, failing mental health network and eroding infrastructure. They are the ones assuming the risk of their own 401(k) while funding the no-risk pensions enjoyed by public workers. The number of defined benefit pension plans in the U.S private sector plummeted from 207,000 in 1975 to just 43,000 in 2014, says U.S. Department of Labor. The few that remain are widely failing or begging Congress for a bailout. Meanwhile, public employees enjoy protection from market forces thanks to the taxpayer. It's simply unfair.

All the while, that $36 billion in unfunded pension liability is a ticking time bomb that's already exploded in nearby states that refused to defuse the situation, even if only for future or new hires. At the very least, it's time for a deep dive into the future of a pension system that, by and large, only exists among public sector employees. Just 3,900 employees have received $70 million in retirement benefits in Scott County alone, says data released last week by IPERS officials. Statewide, the program would need $400 million to be fully funded, even as investment returns were nearly 7 percent last year.

The solution might be a 401(k)-like system. It might be additional tiers for future employees that substantially reduce state contributions. Whatever it is, something's got to give.

Rock Island city officials tag 60 percent of that municipality's budget on pension benefits for police and firefighters. In a local context, it's a staggering amount robbing resources directly from where it's needed most. As a whole, Illinois spends about 20 percent of its general operating funds just to keeping its failing pension afloat. Illinois' pension is quite literally eating the state.

Iowa is nowhere near that kind of death spiral. It's less populated, more rural and, as a result, its government is a fraction of the size of Illinois' workforce. But pensions suck millions from local government coffers each and every year.\u00a0

Branstad made clear he's not advocating for the change. He's simply open to the discussion, he said. And that discussion is all but a sure bet when Iowa Legislature gavels in come January.

It's time for a hearing to discuss the fact that 10 percent of the population enjoy benefits not available to everyone else. It's time to toss away the out-of-date claim that public employees earn less than their peers in the private sector. It's time to recognized that the very existence of high-cost public contracts skews employment and income data and burdens taxpayers throughout the state.

Unions can scream from the rooftops about the wrong-headedness of taking away benefits instead of reintroducing them to the private sector. A lovely, but wholly unrealistic, bit of dogma.

The battle's been fought in Wisconsin. It's brewing in GOP-run states throughout the country. Even Democratic governors in staunchly Democratic states, intent on cutting skyrocketing pension and health care costs, are waging war against entrenched unions and their legislative lapdogs.

Public employee unions don't have to like it, but public pension systems are going the way of the dodo. Branstad and Republican lawmakers are looking to bring that debate to Des Moines.

Iowa officials can hash it out now. Or they can wait and suffer the same fate as neighboring states that rejected reality.

"}, {"id":"ab2768b2-6c3f-5a81-aac3-306aabb3c832","type":"article","starttime":"1481094000","starttime_iso8601":"2016-12-07T01:00:00-06:00","sections":[{"leonard-pitts":"news/opinion/editorial/columnists/leonard-pitts"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Pitts: Journalism's hard year draws to a close","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/leonard-pitts/article_ab2768b2-6c3f-5a81-aac3-306aabb3c832.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/leonard-pitts/pitts-journalism-s-hard-year-draws-to-a-close/article_ab2768b2-6c3f-5a81-aac3-306aabb3c832.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/leonard-pitts/pitts-journalism-s-hard-year-draws-to-a-close/article_ab2768b2-6c3f-5a81-aac3-306aabb3c832.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Leonard Pitts","prologue":"This has probably not, in fact, been the worst year in the history of American journalism. But you'll forgive me if it feels that way just the same. It was, after all, a year in which the country firmly entered the post-factual era, led by an incoming president who has no time for intelligence reports, yet is a devotee of a conspiracy website that claims symbols on a pizza menu are used by pedophiles to send messages. This same guy spent much of the year castigating journalists as \"dummies,\" \"slime,\" \"disgusting,\" \"lame,\" \"sad,\" and \"the lowest form of life,\" all of it eaten up by mobs that snarled and snapped at the traveling press corps, who stood penned up at his rallies like that goat lowered into the Tyrannosaur paddock in \"Jurassic Park.\"","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["reporter","journalism","politics","journalist","fact","ellie","columnist","news media","colleague"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"df7b2ec5-6bcd-508f-b2ab-4367c9b177c9","description":"Leonard Pitts","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"700","height":"508","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/d/f7/df7b2ec5-6bcd-508f-b2ab-4367c9b177c9/5733d4deb345d.image.jpg?resize=700%2C508"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"72","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/d/f7/df7b2ec5-6bcd-508f-b2ab-4367c9b177c9/554bcd6b8cf3c.preview-100.jpg"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"218","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/d/f7/df7b2ec5-6bcd-508f-b2ab-4367c9b177c9/5733d4deb345d.image.jpg?resize=300%2C218"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"743","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/d/f7/df7b2ec5-6bcd-508f-b2ab-4367c9b177c9/5733d4deb345d.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":3,"commentID":"ab2768b2-6c3f-5a81-aac3-306aabb3c832","body":"

This has probably not, in fact, been the worst year in the history of American journalism.

But you'll forgive me if it feels that way just the same.

It was, after all, a year in which the country firmly entered the post-factual era, led by an incoming president who has no time for intelligence reports, yet is a devotee of a conspiracy website that claims symbols on a pizza menu are used by pedophiles to send messages. This same guy spent much of the year castigating journalists as \"dummies,\" \"slime,\" \"disgusting,\" \"lame,\" \"sad,\" and \"the lowest form of life,\" all of it eaten up by mobs that snarled and snapped at the traveling press corps, who stood penned up at his rallies like that goat lowered into the Tyrannosaur paddock in \"Jurassic Park.\"

So yes, a grueling year. And it seems to me, in this season of thanksgiving, that the best way to end that year is to thank my reporter colleagues for all they do to inform a nation that, increasingly, chooses not to be informed.

Lest you think I sprain my arm to pat my own back, I hasten to say that the above does not refer to me. Though I do occasional reporting, I am not a reporter, but a columnist. A political cartoonist I once met described people like us as \"professional reactors.\" That is, a thing happens, real reporters gather the facts of that thing, and then we opine upon those facts.

Everybody opines, of course. But sometimes, we forget that the information upon which we do so does not simply produce itself. The facts upon which both the barstool philosopher and the columnist rely, the facts Sean Hannity mangles and Donald Trump simply ignores, come to us through the efforts of men and women who dig for them, who work phones, finesse sources, burrow into transcripts, ask powerful people impolite questions.

And sometimes, die.

Worldwide, the Committee to Protect Journalists reports that more than 1,200 journalists have been killed since 1992. According to Reporters without Borders, 81 were killed last year alone.

The United States has been largely spared those outrages. Yet they provide a chilling context for the anti-media frenzy so gleefully generated by the incoming president.

Not that news media were universally beloved before he came to town. In a nation of stark political polarization, claims of bias -- a word too often defined as, \"that which is mean (though not unfactual) toward my preferred candidate or ideology\" -- have made media-bashing the fastest growing sport in America.

Some of it is certainly deserved. Sometimes, news media are too timid, too obsessed with ephemera. And, yes, biased.

But then, there is this:

On Sept. 11, an army of police and firefighters famously rushed toward the danger. Less well-remembered is the army of reporters who did the same. My former colleague, Elinor J. Brecher, was one of them. Ellie might be five feet tall if she jumped. She might weigh 110 pounds if she tied cinder blocks to her feet.

Yet, there she was, this small woman, down there in the wreckage of the World Trade Center with the rescue workers and survivors, gathering the news. From time to time, I re-read the powerful and evocative essay she wrote about it as a reminder of what my colleagues do.

That is, they go where the story is, even if that's dangerous, even if it defies self-preservation. And they produce the facts that help those of us who still want to, to comprehend our world.

As journalism's hard year draws to a close, I think that deserves my gratitude. Frankly, it deserves yours, too.

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Gov. Terry Branstad might assume one of the most critical posts in president-elect Donald Trump's administration. And, should Trump and Branstad both head that direction, it could reshape Iowa politics in the near term, especially for Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and those looking to challenge her claim to state Republican Party dominance.

Branstad is scheduled to meet Tuesday with Trump about a possible appointment as ambassador to China, Bloomberg reported Friday, calling him the \"likely pick.\" Branstad has a long relationship with Chinese President\u00a0Xi Jinping built over years of trade. Trump even highlighted\u00a0Branstad's relationships with Bejing during campaign stops. Maybe of even greater significance for a president-elect who values loyalty above all else, Branstad stayed true to Trump throughout the tumultuous general election cycle. In July, the Iowa delegation didn't walk out in protest, like other states that went for a different candidate in the primary. Branstad's son, Eric, even ran Trump's winning Iowa operation.

Accepting the job would be a \"big family decision,\" Branstad told reporters Monday. Talk about an understatement.

Trump is already blowing holes in accepted diplomatic protocol. Bejing's hackles are already up following his call to Taiwan, a disputed territory few presidents even recognize. China was a regular target of Trump's throughout the campaign. China's increasingly bold expansion into the South China Sea is putting U.S. and Chinese warships into close proximity. And don't forget China's Asian neighbor, Russia.\u00a0

Bejing and Moscow: Whoever assumes those jobs will have their hands full, especially under a president who rejects most forms of cordiality.

Make no mistake, Branstad wouldn't be accepting some cushy gig. He wouldn't be ambassador to Fiji. Iowa nice would only go so far.\u00a0

Back at home, the move wouldn't rise to trade wars and tangling warships. But it would most certainly send tremors throughout the political landscape. Lt. Gov Reynolds would suddenly be an incumbent in 2018.

That would take some of the wind out of the sails of Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett. The former Iowa House speaker has been touring the state with his conservative think tank, Engage Iowa. Corbett might be talking pro-farm ways to fund water quality initiatives, but he's really signaling his desire to replace Branstad. State Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey's name is also circling among Republicans as a contender. Both men would likely stand a good chance against Lt. Gov. Reynolds, whose position as Branstad's protege is probably what she's known for statewide.\u00a0

That all changes should Reynolds have a couple years in office to solidify her hold on party politics, especially with total GOP control of the Capitol.\u00a0

But Reynolds' hold on the standard of Iowa's GOP would be contingent on a number of issues she'd almost certainly face while finishing Branstad's term. Iowa, and dozens of other states that expanded Medicaid, face the pending dismantling of Obamacare. Iowa's now-privatized Medicaid system isn't exactly going swimmingly. There's still no agreement on how to fund water quality measures and who should pay for it. The school funding problem isn't going anywhere.

After tomorrow, Iowa's venerable governor could face the decision of a lifetime, a critical position in a critical time for U.S.-China relations. And, as the dominoes fall, Reynolds could suddenly find herself atop Iowa's GOP ahead of schedule.\u00a0

The real question is if she could stay there.\u00a0

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\u00a0Shovel a path for Santa. It\u2019s going to be a white Christmas. The odds will shiver your timbers, says Steve Gottschalk, semi-professional weather prognosticator. Steve, the country boy from Lowden, Iowa, is rarely wrong. He puts the chance of snow on Dec. 24 and 25 at 73 to 87 percent.

\u201cChristmas Day occurs during the week of the last quarter moon; that means a 73 percent chance of snow on the ground,\u201d says Steve. \"Christmas comes during a weak La Nina, which still gives us an 87 percent certainty of a white Christmas.\u201d

La Nina is a weather pattern that can do bad things. He warns that 2017 arrives during a week of a new moon; that means a 71 percent certainty of snow. All this is an omen to head south.

How not to fall out of bed

My bumpy night when I fell out of bed three times has brought advice from readers:

MARY RUFFCORN of Buffalo is sympathetic. \u201cI hope you get yourself a sturdy bed rail. There are many types available at places like Walgreens and medical equipment suppliers. Take care of yourself, Bill, and take care of your wife.\u201d

A NUMBER have scolded, like a writer who signed her note as \u201cMarvella.\u201d She said, \u201cFor goodness sake, do we need to put a railing of your side of the bed? You are no longer a child. You should be careful when you sleep. I feel sorry for your wife.\u201d

\u201cHI, FRIEND,\u201d writes Kathryn Poyner, a newcomer to Davenport from Waterloo. \u201cDo like we do for kids. Put a pool noodle, a toy for swimming pools, UNDER the edge of the fitted sheet. It serves as a railing and doesn\u2019t have to be sewed in.\u201d

CHRISTOPHER Epting offers advice: \u201cTime for assisted living, my friend. Consider it for your family\u2019s sake, if not your own. Seriously.\u201d

Hot dogs and home runs

After my Sunday plea to save good old Levee Inn on D\u2019port riverfront, Dave Heller, enterprising owner of River Bandits, suggests: \u201cWhat would you think about moving the Levee Inn and relocating it on the back side of Modern Woodmen Park? We would make it part of the ballpark, still sell hot dogs, and give it the love and attention it deserves. What do you think? Would the city go for it?\u2019\u2019

Blue Devils are here to stay

Scott McKissick, the jovial principal of Central High in Davenport, debunks the talk that Blue Devils are on the way out as the symbol of his school. \u201cIt\u2019s curious how that ever got started,\u201d he says. \u201cBlue Devils will always be the school\u2019s identifying logo, our signature for everything.\u201d

Long live the Blue Devils! Now, is everybody happy?

Mystery of the missing spoons

You know how it goes, there\u2019s always one abandoned shoe on the street or\u00a0 sidewalk. Never two shoes; always one. There\u2019s the missing sock in the dryer. The dryer yields only one. Where does the matching sock go? Does every washer or dryer have a sock-eating monster?

\u201cLately, I\u2019ve been thinking about spoons,\u201d says Tom Gilsenan, who runs Uptown Bill\u2019s, an Iowa City coffee house, gathering place, performance venue, used bookstore and other enterprises.

\u201cWhere do the spoons go? I inventoried silverware at the coffee house before our community Thanksgiving dinner and found that we have one-third\u00a0fewer spoons than forks. I know there was exactly the same number of spoons and forks a little over a year ago.

\u201cThinking about this, I realized this happened at home, too\u00a0\u2014 home when I was a child as well as home now. So, what could be happening to those spoons? Is that a universal problem?\u201d

"}, {"id":"de1823c9-41b6-51ee-9f14-a6565d8bccf7","type":"article","starttime":"1480921200","starttime_iso8601":"2016-12-05T01:00:00-06:00","sections":[{"froma-harrop":"news/opinion/editorial/columnists/froma-harrop"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Harrop: Let's cook like grandma","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/froma-harrop/article_de1823c9-41b6-51ee-9f14-a6565d8bccf7.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/froma-harrop/harrop-let-s-cook-like-grandma/article_de1823c9-41b6-51ee-9f14-a6565d8bccf7.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/froma-harrop/harrop-let-s-cook-like-grandma/article_de1823c9-41b6-51ee-9f14-a6565d8bccf7.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Froma Harrop","prologue":"'Tis the season to do cooking. And the holidays are when folks yearn for the old classics, just like ones we used to know. Even some hardcore \"foodies\" put away the experimental cuisine and make predictable dishes with recognizable ingredients. One can understand why food writers persist in advocating \"makeovers\" of traditional dishes. If they didn't put a new spin on standards, they'd have nothing to write about. They'd just reference a cookbook or provide links to the chicken potpie recipe on Epicurious (though I doubt the pioneers had access to dried chanterelle mushrooms).","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["restaurant","dish","chocolate","chef","fish stew","tradition","urchin"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"72704fad-2236-56b4-ba71-4216ed49a55a","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"620","height":"408","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/27/72704fad-2236-56b4-ba71-4216ed49a55a/572e99e3be43a.image.jpg?resize=620%2C408"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"65","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/27/72704fad-2236-56b4-ba71-4216ed49a55a/5437f3c09bc16.preview-100.jpg"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"197","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/27/72704fad-2236-56b4-ba71-4216ed49a55a/5437f3c09c412.preview-300.jpg"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"674","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/27/72704fad-2236-56b4-ba71-4216ed49a55a/572e99e3be43a.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":3,"commentID":"de1823c9-41b6-51ee-9f14-a6565d8bccf7","body":"

'Tis the season to do cooking. And the holidays are when folks yearn for the old classics, just like ones we used to know. Even some hardcore \"foodies\" put away the experimental cuisine and make predictable dishes with recognizable ingredients.

One can understand why food writers persist in advocating \"makeovers\" of traditional dishes. If they didn't put a new spin on standards, they'd have nothing to write about. They'd just reference a cookbook or provide links to the chicken potpie recipe on Epicurious (though I doubt the pioneers had access to dried chanterelle mushrooms).

Food writers continue to spread the belief that a 28-year-old celebrity chef can improve on centuries of culinary trial and error. There may be a genius or two among them, and it's a free country. But familiar foods feed a hunger for physical links to past experiences.

Consider an American classic, the s'more. Marshmallows and chocolate melted between two graham crackers, the s'more evokes Scout nights around the campfire. Sure, you can replace the crackers with brioche and Hershey's with imported Belgian chocolate. Point is, when you want a s'more, you want Hershey's.

Similarly, when you ask for Southern fried chicken, you generally expect a repeat of the classic dish. Some cooks do it better than others, but the diner is generally not seeking a culinary revolution.

Italians have already spent a millennium getting linguine with clam sauce right. Why one would incorporate Asian spices into the dish, other than for their novelty value, remains a mystery. Non-European culinary traditions also demand respect. There's a quesadilla made according to Mexican custom, and there's a Peking duck perfected in China.

The restaurants promoting the most extreme tear-downs of established dishes -- food writers call them \"resets\" -- congregate in centers of tech and finance. They have a clientele that can afford truffles on their cheese omelets -- and that believes there's not a wheel that doesn't need reinventing. We're reporting from planet disruption.

Former restaurant critic Daniel Duane has written on the bizarre temples to culinary grandiosity now patronized by the filthy-rich venture capital and post-IPO crowd in Silicon Valley. At Manresa, for example, he was served a creation called \"Tidal Pool\" -- \"a clear littoral broth of seaweed dashi pooling around sea-urchin tongues, pickled kelp and foie gras.\" When he returned in a party of four, the chef created a special tasting menu. The bill for the table after tax and tip came to $1,200.

Down in America's merely affluent neighborhoods, restaurants lure the hipster class by strewing dishes with less expensive exotica. Greens, of course, have to be micro, the cheese \"artisan.\" The servers often do too much explaining and deliver too little food.

About the tapas craze. All dining traditions have an order of eating -- what you start with, what comes next, how you end. But the \"little plates\" phenomenon has injected chaos into the restaurant experience.

Tapas happen to be a venerable Spanish bar tradition. They are small dishes of nibbles set on the counter to keep one going until the late Spanish dinner hour. In Spain, that's snacking, not dining.

But aspiring entrepreneurs in this country have turned small plates into the whole thing. That means that four people might have to order 10 or 11 dishes. The plates fly to the table like loaded Frisbees, forcing diners to fight with sharp cutlery for their share.

This is a generalization, I know, but the hotter the restaurant the colder the service. The owners don't particularly care if you feel unwelcome, because at that very moment, your replacements are reading erotic accounts of their grilled lamb hearts.

Bring me some fish stew, waiter, and hold the urchin tongues.

"}, {"id":"edf886d3-9e02-5123-bd9f-24ac6865e5f9","type":"article","starttime":"1480921200","starttime_iso8601":"2016-12-05T01:00:00-06:00","sections":[{"esther-cepeda":"news/opinion/editorial/columnists/esther-cepeda"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Cepeda: Expand women's access to affordable birth control","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/esther-cepeda/article_edf886d3-9e02-5123-bd9f-24ac6865e5f9.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/esther-cepeda/cepeda-expand-women-s-access-to-affordable-birth-control/article_edf886d3-9e02-5123-bd9f-24ac6865e5f9.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/esther-cepeda/cepeda-expand-women-s-access-to-affordable-birth-control/article_edf886d3-9e02-5123-bd9f-24ac6865e5f9.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Esther Cepeda","prologue":"It looks as though president-elect Donald Trump is getting serious about repealing the Affordable Care Act, which means that the gains women made in access to birth control are as up-in-the-air as the vitriol-inducing requirement to pay a fine for opting to not get health insurance. But before fretting about what might be taken away, it's worth noting that even in its present form, the ACA did not magically make birth control universally accessible to all the low-income women the law hoped to cover.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["democrats","republicans","birth control","aca","campaign","ginny ehrlich","clinic"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"88390386-2625-5b9b-8db2-4c5b0aa2b150","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":240,"hiresheight":240,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/83/88390386-2625-5b9b-8db2-4c5b0aa2b150/5830e34f0e0f4.hires.jpg","presentation":"mugshot","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"240","height":"240","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/83/88390386-2625-5b9b-8db2-4c5b0aa2b150/572e9a5c8bb54.image.jpg?resize=240%2C240"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"100","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/83/88390386-2625-5b9b-8db2-4c5b0aa2b150/5674955962d16.preview-100.jpg"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"300","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/83/88390386-2625-5b9b-8db2-4c5b0aa2b150/572e9a5c8bb54.image.jpg"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"1024","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/83/88390386-2625-5b9b-8db2-4c5b0aa2b150/572e9a5c8bb54.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":5,"commentID":"edf886d3-9e02-5123-bd9f-24ac6865e5f9","body":"

It looks as though president-elect Donald Trump is getting serious about repealing the Affordable Care Act, which means that the gains women made in access to birth control are as up-in-the-air as the vitriol-inducing requirement to pay a fine for opting to not get health insurance.

But before fretting about what might be taken away, it's worth noting that even in its present form, the ACA did not magically make birth control universally accessible to all the low-income women the law hoped to cover.

According to data from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, there are currently 19.7 million women in need who live in what they call \"contraceptive deserts.\" This means they lack \"reasonable access\" to public clinics that offer a full range of birth control methods, from access to condoms and spermicide to pills, IUDs, implants and others.

They define \"reasonable access\" as a county where the number of public clinics, and estimated number of providers in those clinics, are enough to meet the needs of the county's population, defined as at least one clinic/provider for every 1,000 women.

But even having this baseline number of health care providers in a geographic area doesn't mean that women are necessarily able to access the birth control services they need.

\"We tend to think of this lack of access as a rural or suburban issue but when you look at access maps, even in large urban centers, where it looks as though they have better access than people who live in remote locales, it's still a major issue for low-income women to get to where the doctors are,\" Ginny Ehrlich, the CEO of the National Campaign, told me. \"These are women who are navigating the challenges of public transportation, who may not have paid time off or the ability to pay for child care costs so they can go to the clinic -- it can take four hours to go five miles in some urban areas.\"

And such difficulties are but aspirational inconveniences to the 3.1 million women that the National Campaign estimates are in need of low-cost reproductive health care and birth control but live in counties without a single public clinic that offers the full range of contraceptive methods.

So, yes, the ACA benefits are much needed to keep the numbers of unplanned pregnancies at their present historic low. But even still, the Guttmacher Institute, a sexual and reproductive health and rights research and policy organization, estimates that in 2011 nearly half of all U.S. pregnancies were unintended and they are increasingly concentrated among low-income women.

Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., president-elect Trump's pick for heading the Department of Health and Human Services, is said to be, paradoxically, both a fierce opponent of abortion and of the ACA's birth control mandate. If so, he's out of step with a majority of Americans.

\"In a time where we're constantly being barraged by divisive partisan issues, this is an issue that by and large and across the board we agree upon,\" said Ehrlich. \"Everybody loves birth control,\" she said, citing a recent survey the organization did which found that eight in 10 adults (86 percent) support policies that would make it easier for those 18 and older to get the full range of birth control methods.

Further, the National Campaign's survey found that 76 percent of all respondents support policies that make it easier for teens to access birth control with 70 percent of Republicans and 90 percent of Democrats agreeing that birth control is a basic part of women's health care. Of those respondents, 74 percent of Republicans and 86 percent of Democrats agreed that those who oppose abortion should strongly support birth control.

Not everyone thinks that ample access to birth control is a bipartisan point of agreement.

In 2012 Rep. Price said that there was \"not one woman\" who was \"left behind\" from access to birth control. Many others, who themselves are not impacted because they are affluent enough to have the means necessary to easily access a full range of health care services, also don't understand the need for ensuring that every woman that wants to keep from getting pregnant can so do safely.

They will have to learn. And if the Trump administration doesn't gain this understanding, millions of women and their advocates will be sure to enlighten them on how the cost of birth control stacks up to surging levels of unplanned pregnancies.

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Thursday, Dec. 5, 1996:\u00a0Representatives of almost 30 Quad-City-region municipalities hope some \"800-pound gorillas\" can get the cable television monkey off their backs. City officials, including some from as far away as Peoria, Princeton, Sterling and Rock Falls gathered Thursday in Rock Island to discuss changing trends in telecommunications and how they can best gain some control over cable companies.

Monday, Dec. 6, 1976:\u00a0Rock Island School District parents unhappy with crowded and late city buses transporting their children to school can purchase private transportation but at nearly four times the cost. Since the arrival of colder weather, this fall's implementation of a junior high school desegregation plan has upset some parents who say their children wait at stops for the city bus as long as 45 minutes and sometimes watch already packed vehicles pass them by.

Friday, Dec. 7, 1956:\u00a0With a kettle and a bell and a boogie beat, Morning Democrat reporter Jim Arpy was a ding dong daddy for the Salvation Army. More properly, he spent an enjoyable period of time with that selfless group of people who keep alive the spirit of Christmas each year ringing bells for the Army's collection kettles.

Tuesday, Dec. 8, 1936:\u00a0(AP) A terse athletic board statement announcing the Ossie Solem \"is authorized to increase his football coaching staff for the 1937 season\" today apparently settled the question of Solem's tenure at the University of Iowa.

Saturday, Dec. 9, 1916:\u00a0CITY CRUSADE AGAINST VICE FINALLY BEGINS \u2014\u00a0Police Raid Pool Room, Alleged Gambling Joint, and Take Seven \u2014\u00a0What is believed to be the opening gun in the gigantic anti-vice campaign advocated so strenuously some weeks ago by Mayor John Berwald was fired Saturday night, when at a late hour, police raided the Brunswick pool room, an alleged gambling joint at 323 West Third Street, and arrested seven men. Night Captain Charles Schlueter, Detectives Phelan and Estes, and Patrolman Randolph made the raid. They claim to have found a poker game and a session of \"craps\" in full swing. A \"craps\" table was taken, among other things, as evidence.

Thursday, Dec. 10, 1896:\u00a0MURDER \u2014\u00a0TRAMPS SLEW A COMRADE LAST NIGHT AT THE SLOUGH \u2014\u00a0At Least it Looks That Way \u2014\u00a0Rock Island Coroner's Jury, However, Says the Cars Did It \u2014\u00a0The identity of the Victim is Unknown. Section men, going to work this morning, found the dead body of a man at the foot of the embankment at the south end of the slough bridge in Rock Island. He was apparently a tramp, and the supposition is that he was murdered by tramps and thrown down the embankment to make it appear that he had been struck by a train.

Monday, Dec. 11, 1876:\u00a0BOIL THE WATER \u2014 An observant gentleman, who resides in the northern part of the city, says the Clinton Herald, where the surface water used for domestic purposes ordinarily comes from low ground, says all the water used in his family is first purified by boiling. He began this practice some time ago and found it to be so beneficial that he desires to the result of his investigations for the benefit of the public.

"} ]